Rajiv Jhangiani, Ph.D.

Open Education, SoTL, Psychology

Month: March 2015

Textbooks? Where we’re going we don’t need textbooks!

Back to the future time machine

As many of you will remember, 2015 is the “future” year in the beloved 1985 film “Back to the Future.” Although this may make you chuckle, I believe that Doc Brown had it right and that at least part of the future is here.

Consider this: In a now-famous blog post, David Wiley argued that “using OER the same way we used commercial textbooks misses the point. It’s like driving an airplane down the road. Yes, the airplane has wheels and is capable of driving down on the road (provided the road is wide enough). But the point of an airplane is to fly at hundreds of miles per hour – not to drive. Driving an airplane around, simply because driving is how we always traveled in the past, squanders the huge potential of the airplane.”

As always, David makes an important point in a persuasive fashion. But let me add what I believe is the perfect meme to his argument with a slightly amended version of the famous final scene of the iconic film:Doc Brown meme

From believer to dOER

It was in May of 2013 that I first heard David Wiley speak about open textbooks. That experience catalyzed my involvement with reviewing, adopting, and adapting open educational resources (OER). In May of 2014 I heard David speak once again (as the keynote speaker at last year’s Open Textbook Summit). Since then I have been immersed in research projects on the impact and efficacy of OER, advocacy as a Faculty Fellow with BCcampus (including a number of workshops at universities in BC), and a second open textbook revision. Of course all of this means that it has been rather too long since my last post and that I have a number of open education-related updates to share:

1. I recently concluded the data collection phase of a major survey of BC faculty who have adopted open educational resources (OER) in the classroom. The online survey was a collaboration with BCcampus, with whom I work as a Faculty Fellow (along with Christina Hendricks and Jessie Key), and Beck Pitt of the UK-based OER Research Hub. We are currently in the process of analyzing these data but the preliminary results look very promising. Among other things, the responses to the survey will shed more light on the types of OER that faculty have been using, their motivations for using OER, barriers, enablers, and a host of other contextual information that will help us to develop roadmaps for OER adoption and adaptation within the BC post-secondary context.

2. I just launched a major survey of BC students aimed at assessing the impact of open textbook adoption on their personal and educational outcomes, including cost savings, employment status, course performance, and program completion rates.

3. I am collaborating with my colleagues Farhad Dastur and Richard Le Grand in carrying out a quasi-experimental investigation of the impact of open textbook adoption on students taking introductory psychology at KPU.

4. Also with Farhad Dastur, I developed a course on Research Methods in Psychology for Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning Division and the OERu. The course is unique in that it has been constructed entirely with OER and resides in Wikieducator.

5. I am putting the finishing touches to a chapter I wrote titled “Unleashing openness in the teaching of introductory psychology.” The chapter will be published later this year in a book about Thematic Approaches to Teaching Introductory Psychology. As soon as it is ready I will post a copy on this site. [Update (May 24, 2015): A pre-publication copy is now available online].

6. I co-facilitated a webinar during Open Education week titled “Distinguishing the dOERs” during which Beck Pitt and I shared some data from our research on faculty adopters and adapters of OER.

7. Over the next few months I will give a number of presentations about open textbooks, open educational resources, and open pedagogy at a variety of meetings and conferences, including the following:

  • “Using open pedagogy to promote critical skill development” at the Teaching Introductory Psychology – North West Conference
  • “Giving psychology away: The impact of open textbook adoption on psychology students” at the 2015 Psychology Articulation Meeting.
  • “An openness to openness: The terrifying and liberating process of disrupting higher education” – the keynote address at the 2015 Open Textbook Summit. Vancouver, Canada
  • “Academic librarians and OER: Access, advocacy, and activism” at the 2015 BC Library Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

I am looking forward to each of these but was especially honoured to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the Open Textbook Summit. I am not yet certain that I am deserving of following in David’s footsteps but will do my darndest to deliver a memorable experience.

8. Finally, I should say that it has been wonderful to see the Open Education movement get so much local press lately. Given that awareness of OER is still a major barrier, I have been delighted to see press releases from the Ministry of Advanced Education, an interview with CBC Radio, and articles in the Surrey Now, Indo-Canadian Voice, Chilliwack Times, and The Link feature our work. This coverage really helps raise awareness and build momentum which, together with a supportive institutional culture, will create more many more believers and, I daresay, a few more dOERs.